Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Jihad – the world’s number one brand

Organised religion is primarily a vehicle for preserving the status quo; Islamofascism, then, has only a loose, portfolio connection with Islam itself. Modern Jihad may be stepped in the Koran, but is clearly not of it – in its transnational, streetwise success, it is much closer to Nike. The similarities are many – the “cool”-ness, the inane posturing and slogans (“just do it”) – but Jihad has gone one step further, to become the first brand that ate its master.

Jihad is like an audition for a reality TV program that just got bigger and bigger – the audition, that is. The audition becomes the program, and the brand becomes perfected through its own provisionality.

In the non-Muslim West, the closest thing to the practice of Jihad is backpacking. Both are sheltered, faux-ascetic travel rituals, whose usual economic substance is that linguistic abomination: the “working holiday”. As backpacking has not (yet) been branded, its practitioners retain some moral autonomy. In Jihad, all moral precepts are dilutory and subordinate, because of the brand’s endless multiplicity.

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